The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) Commissioner, Dr. Daniel Bekele said the Commission is setting up a monitoring mechanism to ensure fair trial without involving in the justice system.
In an exclusive interview with The Ethiopian Herald, Daniel said that while political leaders and prominent personalities appear in court as suspects of criminal cases, the judicial procedure has to protect their human rights and they have to be given the opportunity to defend themselves.
The Commission is setting up a procedural mechanism to make sure that suspects' human rights are respected in the process.
As to him, trial monitoring refers to the act of overseeing ongoing court proceedings with a view to ensuring that they are conducted in accordance with Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), Good Clinical Practice (GCP) and other applicable regular requirements.
In this case, Dr. Daniel said EHRC has the responsibility of ensuring the judiciary process and court proceedings are free and fair.
While in custody, the suspects have the right to regularly meet their lawyers and collect information to defend their case before the court of law.
"We will also have a responsibility of making sure that the court procedures, including hearing evidence and passing verdicts, are undertaken fairly by respecting
the rights of the suspects," he said adding, "but this does not mean that EHRC intervenes in the judiciary system. We limit ourselves to checking whether the process proceeds by respecting the rights of the suspects."
Indicating that there were times when individuals were charged as part of a 'political theatre' during the previous times, the Commission is reorganizing itself to ensure that the suspects' human rights are respected.
After carrying out the monitoring, EHRC will announce the report to the public, police, Attorney General, court, etc. Concerned bodies will use the input to make measures if there are any wrongdoings in process.
Indicating that trial monitoring has not yet been applied here in Ethiopia, its report is imperative both for the suspects, families and the government. It also helps the judiciary system to conduct free and fair trials.
He also said EHRC has also deployed its own team to various areas to investigate the recent violence which ended the lives of innocent civilians.
The team has been investigating issues of human right violations and gathering information from the victims systematically, as to him."We carefully investigate issues and documents all the necessary information," he added.
In some areas, the Commission has been facing difficulty to access the victims and gather information, he said. "Our staffs are taking maximum care so as not to cause psychological damage to the victims.
"We have also tried to resolve some of the challenges we encountered in the areas by communicating with the senior leadership."
He also said it is difficult to tell when the report will be announced to the public as it is difficult to estimate the size and depth of the task. "But, once we finalize it, we will publicize the information at hand," he said.